President's Message: Year in Review

President's Message: Year in Review

Michael Zakula, D.D.S.*:
Looking retrospectively at the first 10 months of my presidential term has been a fast and furious ride but full of great accomplishments due to the Board of Trustees’ ability to implement a team  approach. The challenges and changes faced by the Board of Trustees have been impressive, and this dedicated and responsible group of individuals dealt with every issue that came before them.  Your Board truly “seized the day” and took the opportunity to review, analyze, and update EVERYTHING that the MDA did in order to make our association better, more efficient, and more responsive  to the needs of its members and our profession.
 
Administrative Transition
First and foremost, the transition plan, approved by last year’s House of Delegates, was utilized to efficiently and effectively transfer the management of our MDA staff from an Interim Executive  Director to the permanent Executive Director. 
 
Our Interim Director, Linda Tacke, facilitated the Board’s restructuring of the MDA by:
• Developing an office policy manual
• Developing performance evaluations
• Redefining the organizational chart
• Developing comprehensive job descriptions
• Developing a Board of Trustees manual 
 
During these transition activities, the Board appointed a search committee for our new Executive Director and kept the day-to-day operations of the MDA running smoothly. At the same time, the Board positioned our organization to proactively confront the many issues being newly presented to our profession. During this transition period the Board accomplished the following: 
• Refined and implemented an aggressive and coordinated legislative agenda
• Addressed significant repair issues with our MDA building
• Continued interactions and collaboration with the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry
• Expanded collaborative communication process with ASDA leadership at the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry 
• Successfully sponsored our 10th year of Give Kids a Smile 

New Initiatives 
The Board took the initiative on other issues, including the following.
A Board of Dentistry Task Force was established to improve communication between the Board of Dentistry and the MDA, and allowed us to have input on current and new issues with the Board of  Dentistry.
 
The successful sale and transfer of Midwest Dental Benefits (MDB) was a significant accomplishment. The transition of ownership will assure the option of direct reimbursement in the Minnesota  insurance marketplace without invoking the financial burden on the MDA, truly giving our members the best of both worlds. 
 
The MDA, under the guidance of the Membership Committee, initiated a Membership Program for Growth (MPG). This has involved a comprehensive outreach to large dental groups, attempting to  improve communication and articulate the importance of organized dentistry for ALL dentists. The MPG has been extremely successful in not only increasing membership but also in identifying how  collaborative efforts between large groups and the MDA can be beneficial to our profession. 
 
The Executive Committee of the MDA recently met with Dr. Leon Assael, the new Dean of the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry, along with his executive team. We have agreed to continue to work collaboratively to address common areas of concern and are excited about the continuation of our excellent working relationship. 
 
The development and implementation of Minnesota’s very first Mission of Mercy has been supported at the Board level. This event clearly underlines the desire of the dental profession to address the needs of some of the less fortunate. This project has also afforded the MDA the opportunity to open dialogue with the new leadership at Delta Dental of Minnesota in hope of developing a better  working relationship on common areas of interest. 
 
Ownership of the Donated Dental Services Program was transferred to the Minnesota Dental Foundation in order to facilitate securing funds and thereby ensuring the continuation of the program. 
 
Thanks to the efforts of our Legislative Affairs Committee and our legislative staff, the MDA has also been able to establish some direct lines of communication with the Department of Human  Services in hopes of finding better ways to develop a Safety Net Program which will be acceptable to both entities. The professionalism and hard work of our legislative team the past year has paid  off handsomely, as legislators are now coming to the MDA with their dental questions and concerns. Our new legislative team and their insightful approach have created an opportunity for us to  proactively guide pieces of dental legislation instead of getting blindsided in the middle of the legislative session. 
 
Future Trends
These are truly exciting times for the MDA. Under the guidance of our new Executive Director, Carmelo Cinqueonce, I see an extremely bright future where our dedicated and empowered staff will be  able to quickly and efficiently meet the needs of our members while effectively meeting the challenges that our profession will face in the future. We as individual members, young and old alike, must  all be ready and willing to “roll up our sleeves” and become actively engaged in the management of OUR association. The future of our profession rests squarely upon our shoulders, and we must  make certain that legislators and other external entities do not dictate or control how dentistry is defined or practiced. 
 
It has been a privilege and an honor serving as your president for the past ten months, and I promise to continue to listen to the needs and desires of our members for the remainder of my term. 
 
 
*Dr. Zakula is the 2011-2012 president of the Minnesota Dental Association. He is an orthodontist in private practice in Hibbing, Minnesota. Email is drmichaelzakula@gmail.com